Category: Autism Facts and Myths

How People With Autism Cope With COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 is causing extensive disruption to all our lives. But for children with autism, it is twice more damage. It becomes incredibly hard for them to make adjustments, especially in the routine changes. The pressure can lead to an increase in stress, anxiety, and even depression. In unfortunate instances, it can negatively promote challenging behaviors. And for parents and caregivers of children with autism, the whole experience can mean a lot different. The struggle of juggling work and home responsibilities can somehow lead to emotional and mental exhaustion. So to help children and parents deal with the adjustment during this pandemic, here are some of the best things to do.

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Establish New Routines

To cope with the disruptions in this time of global health situation, it is useful to establish new routines. No, it does not have to be a total routine make-over because a small and little by little changes are enough to sustain a better function.  These new sets of tasks can help children with autism develop better emotional and mental strength and allows the whole family to avoid stress and anxiety as well. The entire family can begin by adjusting the morning routines and add something from there. Like for example, after waking up, let the kids arrange their beds before they head towards their breakfast. Or allow them to do some 5 to 10 minute stretching before they take a bath. Parents can also use the children’s school schedule as a guideline to add better transitions between activities and breaks.

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Transition From School To Home

It is essential to understand that children with autism will not easily comply with the changes in their routines, even if the task only requires a small effort. Regardless of what it is, autistic children will find it stressful and exhausting. During this pandemic time, the biggest challenge for them is not going to school. So for some, the whole experience can cause trauma and unwanted behavior. For others, it will need more than a simple transition. So to be able to arrange impressive progress of transitioning, parents should allow kids to still do what the kids are used to do. These include waking up early, taking a bath, putting on kids’ school uniforms, and even pretend to ride a bus to school. From there, the transition can happen by removing some of the daily school tasks in an alternate process. There should be an alternative activity that will take the spot of the familiar routine.

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Create A School Space At Home

Children with autism love school, and not visiting it for an extended period can negatively affect their emotional and mental behavior. But since there are not many parents who can do due to the pandemic situation, they might as well create a school space at home. It will allow autistic children to feel and experience familiar habits regardless of a different environment. So to accomplish this, parents can try setting up a room that will enable school space activities. They can incorporate some of the children’s preferred classroom by putting up a desk and chairs.  Parents can also copy an educational ambiance by setting up a blackboard, piling up some books, and even arranging art materials inside the room. If possible, parents can also use visual support to help increase children’s understanding. To make it more interesting for kids, parents can allow the children to assist in creating their new school space at home.

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Dealing with the life effects of the pandemic is not easy. And for kids with autism experiencing challenging behavior during this time, parents must understand their essential roles in providing what’s best for them.

Why Volunteerism Is Good For You

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The hosts of the 2017 Colorado Springs Conference achieved success in the collaboration of ideas and insights about volunteerism and non-profit leadership. There were more than 500 participants of the event who went to impart some pertinent knowledge about the main topics, and others who were there simply to watch and learn. The breakout sessions were excellent, all of which were especially helpful to the participants who wanted to know more about what is volunteerism and why it’s right for you.

It Forms A Connection To Others. A common benefit of volunteering is its effect on communities. When you volunteer, you have an opportunity to bond with other members of your community and find ways to make it better for all of you. Even if you are helping with some minor tasks, you are still making a significant difference in the lives around you. Additionally, being a volunteer also benefits you and your family in that it helps practice commitment, make new friends, and improve social skills.

It Is Healthy For The Body And Mind. Socialization as a result of volunteering has beneficial effects on one’s mental and physical well-being. Stress levels are significantly reduced when you have a pleasant conversation or connection with others. Taking care of pets, for example, improves your mood and decreases your anxiety. Through regularly connecting with others, you also get to establish a support system that may help you get out of a depressing situation or emotion.

volunteer, teacher, backyard, habitat, technique, students

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It Brings Happiness And Achievement In One’s Life. Being a volunteer is a convenient and beautiful means of discovering what you want to have and be. Volunteerism is relaxing and energizing as well. It can be a good escape from family obligations and day to day chores. It also offers an opportunity to be motivated, creative, and better at life – whatever and wherever it might lead you.

 

What People With Autism Want You To Know Before You Date Them 

Dating is not always easy as shown in television and films. After all, media often promulgates stereotypes about different types of people and such are often wrong. This false information creates difficulty when it comes to actual dating: when people’s misconceptions take over their compassion and understanding. Something people often misunderstand is dating individuals with autism. 

 

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When Autism Disorder Strains A Happy Marriage

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“The autism diagnosis itself is often traumatic for parents. It can be a grueling process that may take up to a year or more, with multiple visits to several different professionals.”  Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC said. With that, parent or guardian collaboration is essential in keeping your bond strong while withstanding the difficulties of looking after your child with autism disorder.

The Reality

Unfortunately, there are instances wherein psychological disorders like autism occurring within a family cause instability and discourse that could severely affect the relationship and eventually lead to divorce. Multiple studies have checked into this troubling issue, and yet their findings are usually contradicting.

However, what medical professionals do know is that autism is a rare disorder that induces stress not only for the parents but caregivers as well. Autism disorders start with a series of unusual events and then lead to inevitable changes that are difficult to deal with, which can then cause frustrations leading to persistent disagreements between parents.

While there are couples who are having trouble dealing with autism, there are those who have powered through all the difficulties by efficiently addressing and ironing out issues.

Autism Factors Affecting Marriage

Families are expected to endure adversities now and then. But when a family has a child with autism disorder, the stakes are higher, and the responsibilities seem doubled. Despite that, there are ways to be like the other couples who have weathered through the storm of staying together and becoming effective caregivers to their autistic child.

What are the reasons behind constant stress and how can you, as parents, be more efficient in overcoming these complications?

  1. The Acceptance
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Taking care of children with autism is supposed to be a partnership between parents, which is why both are required to be extensively knowledgeable about the condition so it can be appropriately managed. But that’s not always the case.

Some families have children with autistic disorder who are unequipped when it comes to dealing with the condition due to some reason. Mostly, only the other half is the well-rounded, well-informed one who becomes the primary caregiver.

  1. The Sharing Of Roles And Responsibilities

While the other parent is designated as the caregiver, the other is either avoidant or is usually unaware of what the disorder is and how it is managed. Here lies the conflict because only one is knowledgeable enough to engage in activities or events that concern the autistic child. Some examples are:

  • Talks to teachers about the kid’s school issues
  • Meets with developmental pediatricians
  • Shows up during evaluations
  • Takes the results

Usually, the mothers are involved in providing initial care; they are the ones who become the advocates and researchers who learn the following about their children with autism:

  • Therapeutic options
  • Classroom and school alternatives
  • Programs for special needs children
  • Education law for special needs children
  • Health insurance
  • Camps and support groups

In the meantime, fathers who choose to sideline themselves from their children’s disorder rely heavily on their wife’s capacity to perform the majority of caregiving duties, thinking that since someone’s more capable and efficient, there is no need to be fully invested in their kids’ daily roundabouts. When this becomes the scenario, the conflict will eventually arise.

Relationship experts and therapists believe that as much as possible, both parents should be involved in providing care and assuming responsibility for their kid’s condition. Collaboration is a huge factor in making sure that the relationship does not suffer while partners take care of their child.

  1. The Reaction

Autism prevails differently in children; therefore parents’ reactions are vital in maintaining a healthier bond with each other and with their autistic kids. “Young people with autism are very good at “getting stuck” and being less flexible.” John Strang, Psy.D. said.

While some parents see various challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow as a couple and as guardians, there are those who are upset and completely overwhelmed. For couples to overcome their frustrations surrounding the condition, they must first understand that an autistic kid:

  • may have ADHD
  • may not be verbal in conveying messages
  • may become noisy or silent
  • may exhibit inappropriate or disturbing behaviors
  • may become aggressive
  • may have anxiety

Because autism presents differently in children, it will take a lot of imagination, perseverance, and energy to figure out how to appropriately engage with children who have autism disorder, and this process can be quite exhausting for the assigned caregiver.

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While it is tempting for one parent to carry all the tasks and responsibilities in taking care of an autistic child and the other to surrender the role of a caregiver, it becomes an issue within the relationship due to the possibility of living separately even if they’re together. Time will come when partners find themselves at a crossroad with very little in common.

The Bottom Line

“There’s grief. There’s relief. There’s a whole range of emotions that go on there,” Jo White, a therapist said. Yes, managing an autistic child and assuming the role of a caregiver can be frightening and unsettling at first. But if couples are mutually accepting, understanding, and knowledgeable in taking on the responsibility of being parents and caregivers, the task of dealing with autism becomes lighter and even strengthens the bond of marriage.

 

Globetrotting With Autism: Preparing A Stress-free Vacation

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Autistic kids do well with established schedules, which is why traveling to foreign places can bring about discomfort due to disrupted routines. Appropriate organizing and planning can aid in your child’s adjustment to a new environment and can be beneficial for the entire family as you journey to distant lands.

 

Autism And Traveling

 

Parents who have autistic kids find it hard to travel with their children especially if it would require long hours of flying or driving. Daunting as it may seem, voyaging into unfamiliar grounds is favorable to your kids since it will introduce them to a whole new dimension of sights, sounds, and wonders that cannot be achieved at home.

 

Due to the requirement of predictability with children within the spectrum, parents are somehow hesitant to go on vacations that would trigger stress and over-stimulation. For most caregivers, the experience of journeying with an autistic child can be quite overwhelming due to episodes of self-injurious, violent, or quirky behaviors exhibited in public that would result to rude and judgmental comments from other people. But according to Janeen Herskovitz, LMHC, “Just because a child has autism, doesn’t mean their life should be limited — it means they might need extra help or adaptations in order to do the same things that others do.”

 

Preparation Done Right

 

For those who are finding ways on how to take their autistic kids with the family on a meaningful, relaxing, and fun-filled journey, here are some of the things that you can do to have a pleasurable trip minus the trouble.

 

  1. Check Travel Destinations Suitable For The Disorder

 

Not all places are disability-friendly; some areas are just too distressing that it can add further apprehensiveness on the part of your child. For children with autism, vacations signify transition, and this could pose a challenging feat. Depending on how your child presents his or her autism, parents should research for vacation places that are unhurried and flexible, like the beach, whichever is ideal for your child. As Richard Shuster, PsyD said, “Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

 

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Always consider what perks or distresses your child. While there are children with autism who are into amusement parks, there are those who are fond of hiking. One way to assure yourself that your child will enjoy the trip is to include him or her in the planning of activities and places to go. Make sure that your itinerary is adapted to the child’s attention span, interests, and ability to process information.

 

  1. Do Scheduling Earlier

 

By making proper arrangements ahead of time, you can create a more pleasant environment for your autistic child. Communicating with people at the place of your destination like the amusement park or the museum, restaurants, hotels, and most importantly, airlines will prompt all concerned parties about your child’s condition. Discuss with them what your requests are and what your child requires especially at specific accommodations.

 

Airlines and flight attendants that are informed ahead of time regarding the condition of your children will have time to adjust and be prepared in assisting with their needs. Some airlines are now more prepared for specific scenarios and situations that might occur when flying with autistic children.

 

  1. Produce Personal Identification

 

In general, traveling with a child that has a disability would require increasing the safety plan since children are susceptible to distractions, wandering around and easily fleeing from unsuspecting adults. The National Autism Association reported that wandering is the leading cause of stress with autistic children. Furthermore, children who move about aimlessly are commonly attracted to the sight of water and are unaware of the danger that it might cause; for this reason, drowning is a primary consequence of wandering and is the primary cause of mortality in children with an autism spectrum disorder.

 

As parents, do not forget to secure a necklace or medical bracelet for your child that has your names and contact details. Some other areas where you can place the information tag are shoelaces, zipper pulls, and pocket. You can also make your child wear personalized shirts that have printouts indicating their condition and your contact information.

 

  1. Don’t Forget The Essentials

 

In other words, do not forget reinforcements that can distract your child from the stress that would prompt tantrums and outbursts. Bring their favorite toys or comfort items that can easily soothe their behavior. Make sure that you have a checklist so that you don’t forget anything significant that would make your child’s travel more comfortable and less nerve-racking.

“There is no cure for autism, nor is there one single treatment for autism spectrum disorders. But there are ways to help minimize the symptoms of autism and to maximize learning.” –Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT

Vacations with autistic children need not be complicated and arduous. Parents just have to know what to do and how to do the necessary preparations to make the trips as pleasant as possible.

The Challenging Nature Of Severe Autism

Medically speaking, severe autism is not a definite diagnosis. Severe autism is mainly used to describe an individual’s need and functioning level. Sometimes referred to as classic autism or profound autism, severe autism efficiently illustrates autistic people who possess the most prominent symptoms.

 

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Elaborating Severe Autism

Currently, the diagnostic manual (DSM-5) brought about the three categories of autism mainly focusing on the level and requirement of support. Level 3, under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can be labeled as severe autism that demands a considerable amount of support which would technically be a 24/7 kind of fostering and supervising.

“Different people with autism–including those diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disability)–can have very different symptoms in varying degrees of severity.” –Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT

Severe autism is more demanding and debilitating compared to other levels of autism due to the following reasons:

 

  • Individuals who are suffering from severe autism have all similar issues like that of the two spectrums, but a higher, much-complicated
  • Major symptoms are evident in people experiencing severe autism that other high-functioning autistic individuals rarely have.

 

Both of the reasons stated above creates a virtually tricky set-up for people struggling with severe autism and their families to function efficiently in normal settings that would range from going to schools, malls, parks, or even the doctor’s office.

 

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Behavioral Difficulties Affecting Individuals With Severe Autism

Research suggests that people who have severe autism usually present intense behaviors that are commonly caused by sensory overload, physical pain, or frustration. Due to these impromptu reactions, individuals who have severe autism may have difficulties with verbally communicating their needs, that would result in their caregivers or other people having a negative perception of their behaviors.

 

Unmanaged or unaddressed behaviors usually conveyed by people with severe autism can become destructive which makes even the closest members of the family feel threatened by the lack of control for such abrupt and dangerous behaviors.

 

What are the typical behavioral challenges that are exhibited by people with severe autism?

 

  1. Aggression

“People with ASD can have problems controlling their aggression and says it is not uncommon for these clients, sometimes including adults, to pull her hair or scratch her arms.” Stephanie Smigiel, LPC said. Usually perceived as anti-social behavior, aggression committed by people with severe autism might be relatively uncommon but is undoubtedly an alarming symptom. Aggressive practices are not limited to kicking, hitting, or biting other people. People with severe autism may also manifest inappropriate acts like door banging, fecal smearing, which necessitates an effective and immediate response.

 

  1. Self-Injury

Self-injury is an act that is common for all levels of ASD; however extreme behaviors like head-banging due to frustration or anger, or consuming non-edible items, are more likely displayed by those who have severe autism.

 

  1. Straying

Another distinct characteristic of people with severe autism that renders much difficulty in dealing with is straying or wandering around for no apparent reason. Compared to high-functioning autistic people, severely autistic individuals don’t have the appropriate tools to eloquently communicate with responders, posing a more precarious situation for the person. Due to the likelihood of straying happening, the majority of families with a member who has severe autism equip the person with alarms, personalized locks, and tools for proper identification to ensure their safety.

 

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“From my perspective, it’s one of the hardest things to deal with because, particularly if they’ve got young children — they’re struggling, they’re really struggling with behaviours.”  Jo White, a therapist said. While there are currently no specific treatments that can relieve someone of his or her condition, there is a wide variety of options aimed at addressing particular symptoms of the disorder. If your children are showing signs of autism and you would want to diagnose them adequately, consulting a medical professional is advised.